Nathan Bransford, Author

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

What Will the Publishing Industry Look Like in Five Years?

Things are definitely changing fast. With some authors already making a major splash with e-publishing, this week came news that bestselling novelist Barry Eisler passed up a $500,000 book deal from a major publisher in order to wade into the self-publishing waters.

E-books are become more and more a part of the landscape, though how quickly they become more than 50% remains to be seen.

My question for you this Wednesday: What do you think the publishing landscape will look like in five years? Will e-books have taken over? Will publishers be struggling or thriving? Do you think the future for books looks bright or bleak?

In 2016, how will things look for publishers, agents, bookstores, and, oh yes, authors and readers?


Anonymous said...

fyi, Nathan, this posted early, and it's beneath the baby video.

Ishta Mercurio said...

E-books will have taken over, and there will be no more bookstores, except for the ones that have morphed into combination book/toy/housewares/gift stores. Whether publishers struggle will depend on how they choose to navigate the e-publishing waters, and on how deep with self-pubbed authors the waters get. If they don't give authors enough of the pie, they might struggle, unless they develop an e-marketing strategy so good that it makes the idea of self-e-publishing scarier than it is right now.

The future is bleak, my friends.

Whirlochre said...

Whatever model is on its way, the mutant telepaths will prevail.

Kate Evangelista said...

I actually can't wait to see what happens next. There are so many possibilities.

terripatrick said...

What will ereaders look like in 5 years - that is the question.
I want one with the screen size of the Ipad and in color, but the battery life and glare free of the Kindle. And I want two pages displayed like a book too, but that's not your question. :)

The Big 6 will be a bit smaller and more selective about the quality of their books so it is a stellar experience for the reader. Maybe editors will actually edit again.

The epub/eread may take over all the mass market lines and make a huge dent in the scholastic markets. Good midlist authors with savvy marketing will make a living as writers!

Now 20 years from now, it will be a whole different paradigm because the children of today will define the publishing industry then.

Kathryn Paterson said...

I'm with Kate--I can't wait to see what happens next. I think we're going to see all sorts of different avenues and approaches, and I don't think print will quite be out by then (maybe in seven, eight, ten?).

I can see authors still going through agents and editors to try to establish themselves before shifting to epublishing later. I can also see epublished authors being picked up by the big houses, if the big houses are still in business (and I think they will be, but maybe not in the same forms).

But something exciting that I don't see discussed much is the role of Kindle shorts. For me personally, I am still trying to go the agent/editor/publisher route with my novel, BUT I am already considering self-pubbing my short fiction directly to Kindle. In that case, I think it makes great economic sense for writers, and it might be a way to get a name out there, if the stories are good. Who knows? Maybe people beyond the academy will actually start READING short fiction again.

Fearful Girl said...

Without the Gatekeeper, writers are about to head down a lawless road of every man for himself …

The future will still have a Gatekeeper, but that Gatekeeper will be the buying public … the very same buying public who launched Justin Bieber to superstardom.

Idiocracy comes to mind. said...

terripatrick is right on target. Yes: "The Big 6 will be a bit smaller and more selective about the quality of their books so it is a stellar experience for the reader."

There's a huge glut of mediocre fiction because publishers have so so so many slots to fill (they all want a monster share of shelfspace despite the quality of their own product on that shelf) that almost anything they can slap a trend cover (or title on) gets published.

Remember when you were a kid and you believed that every book published was something worth reading?

This might also mean that publishers spend a little more time promoting the titles they do publish, rather than just dumping them into the marketplace month after month after month to see if one of them might not sink as quickly as the others.

As for eBooks, I thnk terripatrick is right again... it's for another generation to tell me what's what.

Then again it's really hard to disagree with mutant telepaths.

Hillsy said...

Thinking about the way the Internet has changed a lot of things, including culture & news as well as the mainstream media arts we have know, I think the biggest Change will be inequality - The big few will get bigger and the rest will become smaller.

Publishing Side:
On the less successful side of things, the profligacy of books made available by e-pub will drive down prices but increase choice. Therefore, the returns on these from traditional publishers will be negligible. Instead they'll focus their attention on a smaller booklist, searching for that "next big thing". The publishers hope for mega hits, minimising Low and Middle earning books. An inverted pyramid if you will. It may even work, because of.....

The Internet:. Media has become an expanding rolodex people cycle through, looking for something eye-catching. In publishing, the utopia is each individual analysnig said rolodex and tailoring it to personal tastes. The truth is we don't have time for that, and so we turn to our friends & the net to manage this mass of information. As such, a groundswell of internet opinion can make everyone jump to the same page on their rolodex at the same time and BOOM...'Twilight' happens. With interconnectedness increasing, and voicing personal opinion becoming commonplace (twitter/facebook), popular groundswell can lurch at any given time, to any given book. Amanada Hocking for example. But the more interconnected we become and the more vocal we are with our opinions, the greater the inequality.

This happens because Groundswell feeds off itself. The more people participating in the mechanism or generating groundswell, the more books there are competing for the limelight (the small getting smaller). However, should talk align for a time behind one subject (basic probablility) the more people can become 'infected' by this Groundswell. As such a book sweeps across the net like a virus, feeding off its own popularity and hitting the "big time". For those that don't make it, the more books, the more chatter, the less probablility of the fortuitous alignment that starts the chain reaction. With “small” books becoming cheaper and “big” books holding or growing in price, the 'small' and the 'big' are pushed even further apart.

Two System Model:
I don't know - I'm working purely on a bit of philosophy and some napkin mathmatical modelling, but I look at it this way. Both Trad-Pub & E-Pub will become the norm and produce the Rowling's and the Hocking's of the future (Though I reckon you'll see some pretty binding contracts to stop the Konrath's - but that's another thought). In order for Publishers to continue to produce the same number of Grade A products (Grade A meaning “mega money”) they need a wide base of Grade B-F books to support it. With the cost of the "Average" book falling, They can't financially afford to build their own support structure, and so they'll allow the E-Pub sector to do it for them.

With culture having to cycle through the rolodex faster and faster as it grows in size, it increases reliance on interconnectedness to provide some guide to managing this mass of books. E-Pub creates a mechanic whereby only a select few rise out of the melange, but by all merry hell when they do, they go Global. The ultimate aim of Publishers is to produce ONLY 'Mega-books', and if it works out how to manage and manipulate Groundswell properly, it will finally have a mechanism to do so.

Give it 5-10 years and the publishing landscape, like the music industry, will appear (on the surface) largely unchanged. All that will change is those few at the top will become even more popular (Both culturally and financially), while underneath the number of authors you’ve never heard of will grow, not that you’ll notice.

Kendra said...

Personally, I think there will be some kind of balance between e-books and regular books. Music stores are still alive and well despite the accessibility of downloadable music. I also believe that if agents weren't so darn picky, we wouldn't see such a mass movement of authors going the digital route. I speak from experience. One of my manuscripts was met with lots of positive rejction (yes, there is such a thing!) The general response was "Great story, but we cannot market it. Paranormal/supernatural/dystopian are the current demand. Maybe in a few years, the general public will want general fiction." I think there is a lot of proof that the general public just wants to read. As long as it continues to become increasingly difficult to land an agent/publishing house, the world of e-books will continue to rise.

Kevin Lynn Helmick said...

I think e-books will take a huge swipe of the market, but I think agents and publisher will adapt and adjust their buisness models, probably toward film and other rights. I can't imagine turning down a half mill contract though. He must be extremly confident, extremly crazy or have something very sweet in the works already. As thw writing and writers; I think it's as strong as ever.
Here's on of my e-books. Half a mill anyone?

Liz Fichera said...

I think the publishing landscape looks bright. There are more options and choices for readers and authors. That's not a bad thing at all.

DearHelenHartman said...

Some really well thought out comments - it is an intriguing thing to try to envision. I'd like to look on the bright side but since I read almost as much Hollywood gossip and political stuff as writing stuff these days and see the mega deals given out to CSI actors, political flash in the pans, today's latest twittiot with the seeming discretion of a sample lady at Sam's pushing weinies in hopes of getting a few more sales, I have my doubts about the quality of what will be published.

I see more people making money from writing, fewer people being made "rich and famous" by it. Paper and digital will find a symbiotic relationship - writers taking charge of their careers more and publishers offering what they do best. Or not.

McDermott said...

It's quite natural to look at the current situation and label it as 'the norm' but publishing has always been an evolving creature, and ebooks are just the latest manifestation. Paperback books gained popularity with the GIs of WWII and took off from there. They used to cost $.25 and if you wrote paperbacks you were considered a hack by the literati. Before that the 'dime novel' filled a similar niche. If you want to see the future, look at the past.

The situation is, as usual, confused. I'm all for it. In confusion there is profit.

Mercy Loomis said...

I think ebooks will be a large part of the book trade, but no more than 50%. There will be fewer brick and mortar stores, but there will still be used bookstores and mom-and-pop stores as well as big chains. I think the publishing industry will still be trying to figure out how to cope with the changes as more and more authors (especially the midlist) turn to self-publishing. Unless one of the big six makes a stunning breakthrough in their thinking and the others all pile on the bandwagon, I don't see them getting a useful clue anytime soon. This may well lead to another rise of smaller presses that will, in another 20 years or so, conglomerate back into a handful of big houses.

Rick Daley said...

The big authors will go out on their own, realizing that they have their platforms and the publishers need them more than the big authors need the publishers.

This will create a void in the publishing house coffers (and content) and publishers will begin to seriously cater to mid-list authors. Advances will be modest, but services will thrive (editing, marketing, design, etc.) Mid-list authors will also be looking to self-publish, though, so the publishers will struggle to attract the best talent.

Bookstores will evolve to keep enhancing the buying and reading experience. It will become less about buying a book, and more about the atmosphere / personalization.

Laurie said...

I sincerely hope it takes longer than five years for e-books to take over print. Whatever happens though, I just hope real editors don't disappear. I know bad books happen even with publishing houses, but my fear with self-publishing taking over is mediocrity. Writers need (good) editors.

And I'm with Fearful Girl - I feel physically ill thinking of what has happened to music happening to books (i.e., Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, the list goes on).

As a writer, the new trends could be really good for me. But I was a reader before I was a writer, and the reader in me is scared.

Mercy Loomis said...

Another interesting point - a number of the romance writers in my local almost-affiliated-with-RWA group have mentioned that they are getting pushed hard to take four-book deals when previously they had to push to get two-book deals. At least some publishers are paying attention to the rise of self-publishing and at least trying to buy themselves some time. Again, that doesn't mean the publishers in question have any idea what to do about it, but they have noticed the threat.

Eventually they'll figure out a method to lure the authors back. A lot of new authors still want that validation, but the already-published authors will be less and less likely to have that hang-up as they see the difference in profit margin. Contracts need to be gone over with a fine-toothed comb even more so than they did five years ago. But the self-pubbed authors will have to deal with battling the noise-to-signal ratio, and that ratio is going to skyrocket in the next few years as everyone who ever got a rejection leaps to self-pub now that some of the big names are doing it. Word of mouth is only going to do so much as far as gatekeeping goes. If it gets too bad, authors who don't have a following already will still probably try to go the traditional route so as to build one (the traditional publishing houses acting as quality control, which they're going to need to start taking more seriously if some of the crap that I've bought in deadtree is any indication), and then a lot will depend on the contracts as to how soon that author can move to self-pub, which is (supposedly) where the money is.

Agents (or at least contract lawyers) will still be needed to negotiate contracts not only with the publishers, but also for book clubs and foreign rights and options, etc, things that most authors don't know much about. (You can't self-publish a movie option.) The part of the industry I think will get the most growth is independant editors or editors for hire. Feedback from agents and editors is very often the difference between a good book and a great one, and authors are going to need someone to go over their manuscripts. I shudder to think of a future full of books that haven't been professionally edited (and copy-edited!) at least once.

Maril Hazlett said...

I'm conflicted.

1. Change isn't bad. It often stinks as you go through it, but that does not therefore make it bad.

2. I don't want my kid to grow in a world without bookstores... but evidently, she's gonna, so I need to adjust.

3. E-readers are simply not bathtub-compatible. Or toddler-compatible, for that matter.

4. The church was originally not all that excited about Gutenberg's press, if I recall my history.

5. What, exactly, are the underlying issues when it comes to e-books versus print, or the future of publishing? Is it about readers missing the physicality of books? Is it about crappy small screens? Is it about writing, knowledge, human connection... all of the above, plus more I haven't thought of?

I don't yet know where I come down on any of this.

Ted Cross said...

I think the mainstream reader will still avoid most self-published books simply because there will be too much unedited dross out there. They want gatekeepers they can trust to provide them with polished novels. Any publisher who can consistently back truly good books can make self-publishing work, except then it isn't self-publishing really.

Anonymous said...

I'd expect the big six publishers to start to consolidate. We might have the big five in five years. I just can't see how they can continue to operate with decent profits with so much overhead.

We'll see more eBook only publishers.

Bookstores will being shrinking in size.

Finally, literary fiction that genre fiction is pretty much keeping afloat will find itself going indie. I can't see the big "five" having the ability to print a lot of loss leaders like in the past. They're going to depend on more sure things: their summer blockbusters.

Matthew MacNish said...

6:45 AM? That's odd for you.

I'm hoping nothing changes that drastically. I hope that professionals who've spent their careers mastering the production of great books still have a viable industry to work for.

I don't think that's too unlikely.

Ella Schwartz said...

I think the book industry is very strong. More people are reading books than ever before. However, I do believe that traditional publishing is changing. Are they in trouble? Maybe. I don't think the traditional bookstore will be dead in 5 years, but perhaps dying. The good news for authors is that there are loads of people out there who want to read. The challenge will be figuring out how to attract and sell to all those potential readers out there.

Mr. D said...

Five years from now will probably be similar to right now, but beyond that? Change is coming, and it's inevitable, as it happens sooner or later.

I'm afraid it's bookstores more than anything else that will suffer. With online selling like Amazon, and directly from the publisher's website, the brick and mortar stores will go the way of the dinosaur.

I would say in about ten to twenty years, the printed book will be close to extinction, too, but I'm betting there will still be a market for them, albeit a very small one.

Deni Krueger said...

I think YA and adult will be at 50/50 within five years. Picture book and middle grade will take longer because the audience for those books isn't as likely to have an ereader. Kids in the classroom still go to the school library or select books the teacher has provided in the classroom. If you look in elementary school classrooms, we're not at the 1 computer:1 child ratio yet. With recent education cuts, I can't imagine that multiple ereaders will be added to classrooms anytime soon.

I think of big publishing as having an expiration date 50-75 years from now, when the current generation that is tied to print is no longer. And that print publishing in general will be smaller and more targeted (ie. those non-put-downable books that Mom or Dad read to you when you were too little to read.)

Kathryn Tuccelli said...

Where will publishers be 5 years from now? That depends on how smart they play the game. I do believe that ePub and eBooks will be much more prevalent, but I believe the quality that comes from publishing houses will (still) far exceed those that come from ePub.

It is so "easy" to enter the ePub market, and it's even become rather alluring with the success of Amanda Hocking, but true lovers of the written word will always demand quality above all. If publishers can find that sweet spot in ePub in regards to marketing and profit to the writers while still maintaining quality, they can and will prevail.

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chuck H. said...

After December 21, 2012, we shall all sit upon the ground and tell sad tales of the death of literature. Perhaps some enterprising soul will market scrolls on vellum where he/she has carefully scratched with a turkey feather dipped in berry juice the story of our downfall.

Or not.

John Jack said...

Dateline 2016: Global pleasure readership overall stable at 30%, unchanged since 1990. e-Books enjoy 8% market share of feature-length entertainment channels, e-Novel and creative nonfiction book-length publication 38% of book media market share; e-Newsmedia 62%, e-Digests 54%, other text/visual media, recipes, textbooks, manuals, etc., 73%.

Total number of active English language publishers, 5,000,000; 250,000 paper format with two or more active ISBNs, remainder electronic formats.

High-concept mass market products predominate in the print marketplace. Niche products predominate in the electronic marketplace.

Sean said...

Five years from now unpublished authors will have to put some serious points up on the ebook-board to even have a chance of landing an agent/publisher - if that is even a desire by then. Bookstore shelf space will be so limited that only big ballers will get it.

In five years or less, the new query letter will be your ranking on Amazon, and the agents/publishers will come to you. Trust me, I have a Toy Story 2 Magic 8 Ball that never lies.

Mira said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mercy Loomis said...

On a slightly related note inspired by Maril, why hasn't anyone come out with a waterproof e-reader yet? They have waterproof MP3 players. I'm simply not buying a "book" that I can't take in the bathtub. Get on it, e-reader makers. I bet you'd see a huge spike in sales.

Mira said...

Nathan, Im sorry. I don’t usually do this, but I re-wrote that so it made more sense.

Fascinating discussion. I'd love to hear your take on it sometime, Nathan.

My (long) prediction:

a. Very soon, publishers will struggle to find writers. As blockbuster authors jump ship, all authors will migrate toward more access, money and control. They will no longer wish to pay a lifetime commission on editing/marketing services, etc.

b. Publishers’ attempts to hold on to authors will probably be successful for only so long. They can not compete with the freedom and money offered by indie publishing.

c. E-publishers and independent business people will begin to offer editing, marketing, rights and star-maker services for a one stop fee. Agents and print publishers may morph into these services.

d. As bookstores continue to struggle, and print publishers have trouble finding authors, they will probably be bought out by Amazon, Apple etc.

e. I can't predict who will come out on top with e-publishing, too many factors.

f. Reader review sites will flourish. Amazon/Apple, etc. may also set up book tiers based on number of copies sold, or something like that, to help the reader navigate.

g. Author empires will arise, for those authors who sell well. They will hire staff to help them with their books. They may also mentor and/or hire newer authors.

h. Books will become hugely popular, partly due to low pricing, and partly because there is nothing quite like a good book. The author will gain more status.

i. Books, that have traditionally been an elite product, catering to the upper and middle classes, will begin to filter down to the lower classes. New segments of the population may become involved in writing and reading books.

j. Information will explode. With the gate-keeping function of publishing gone, all those controversial books that were silenced will be out on the market. Publishing, although fairly liberal, was still run by the elite, and had a function of keeping some balance with the status quo. With that gone, the impact on the culture should be fascinating.

k. There may be backlash to that, which could take many forms. The form that most worries me is e-publishers exert control. Whether the backlash can halt the process indefinitely - I don’t know, but I doubt it. The internet is so hard to control, and writers may welcome their freedom. The populace may become more empowered, more educated and more open minded as books proliferate.

It could be very exciting times ahead.

Mira said...

Nathan, I took the other ones down. I don’t usually do this, but I re-wrote that so it made more sense.

Fascinating discussion. I'd love to hear your take on it sometime, Nathan.

My (long) prediction:

a. Very soon, publishers will struggle to find writers. As blockbuster authors jump ship, all authors will migrate toward more access, money and control. They will no longer wish to pay a lifetime commission on editing/marketing services, etc.

b. Publishers’ attempts to hold on to authors will probably be successful for only so long. They can not compete with the freedom and money offered by indie publishing.

c. E-publishers and independent business people will begin to offer editing, marketing, rights and star-maker services for a one stop fee. Agents and print publishers may morph into these services.

d. As bookstores continue to struggle, and print publishers have trouble finding authors, they will probably be bought out by Amazon, Apple etc.

e. I can't predict who will come out on top with e-publishing, too many factors.

f. Reader review sites will flourish. Amazon/Apple, etc. may also set up book tiers based on number of copies sold, or something like that, to help the reader navigate.

g. Author empires will arise, for those authors who sell well. They will hire staff to help them with their books. They may also mentor and/or hire newer authors.

h. Books will become hugely popular, partly due to low pricing, and partly because there is nothing quite like a good book. The author will gain more status.

i. Books, that have traditionally been an elite product, catering to the upper and middle classes, will begin to filter down to the lower classes. New segments of the population may become involved in writing and reading books.

j. Information will explode. With the gate-keeping function of publishing gone, all those controversial books that were silenced will be out on the market. Publishing, although fairly liberal, was still run by the elite, and had a function of keeping some balance with the status quo. With that gone, the impact on the culture should be fascinating.

k. There may be backlash to that, which could take many forms. The form that most worries me is e-publishers exert control. Whether the backlash can halt the process indefinitely - I don’t know, but I doubt it. The internet is so hard to control, and writers may welcome their freedom. The populace may become more empowered, more educated and more open minded as books proliferate.

It could be very exciting times ahead.

Anonymous said...

People won't like this, because everyone has this fantasy the big publishers will disappear and small publishers and the self-published will take over the publishing world.

However, I truly believe the big publishers will, without a doubt, devour the pioneers of e-publishing. They will eat them alive. I've already started to see it happen with backlisted print books being released in digital format, all of which are now competeing with smaller e-publishers and those who self-publish. This makes the already stiff competition harder to handle for new authors in digital. And agents will be right there pushing with the big publishers, knocking down as many as they can.

The big publishers already know the market is moving to digital. Sometimes I think it's an inside joke at board meetings. They won't admit it, but they know. And they aren't going to sit back without a fight. And they will move forward and swallow as many of the pioneers as they can.

In five years time, I wouldn't be surprised to see many of the pioneers (small e-publishers of romance, for example) already sold to big publishers, partly because they won't be able to compete and partly because they won't be able to pass on the offers to sell.

It might even resemble what happened to mom and pop drugstores in the US.

Marsh said...

I think answer to all these questions is how America’s public school systems react. Books are fun, but they’re definitely used as teaching tools. No school is without them. If teachers and students begin to read eBooks, then we’ll see an overhaul.

Otherwise, I’m guessing those that have a good idea on the demographic and preferences of eBook software and hardware users will struggle the least as the book industry changes

Dana Stabenow said...

Here's what I think the publishing process will look like in one year:

1) Author publishes eNovel in partnership with ePublisher of their choice.
2)Author publishes hardcover with small press for collector and library markets.
3)Author's literary agent handles sales for audio and foreign rights.
4)Author's Hollywood agent handles screenright sales.

Each of these processes will be independent of the others.

In five years, NYC publishing may have caught up enough to bid appropriately for all of these rights themselves, but for now publishing is the new wild, wild west, and it's up to the authors to look after themselves. It is my fervent hope that I have signed my last contract containing eRights with any NYC publisher. They just aren't there yet.

And good for Barry.

L.G.Smith said...

I have no idea. I never saw this landscape five years ago. E-readers? Who'd want to read a book on an electronic screen?

I'm not good at prognosticating, but I wouldn't bet against Apple and Amazon. They'll likely control the lion's share of the publishing industry five years from now.

Kristin Laughtin said...

I don't think print books will have disappeared, but ebooks will become a bigger part of the market, and there will be more variety and options for e-readers to accommodate different tastes. There will be basic e-readers similar to today's, and other, more advanced ones with all sorts of fancy features for the tech-savvy, as well as e-readers/everything else devices like the iPad. As for's where I'm not sure. I think niche stores will do well, and my guess is Barnes & Noble will still be around, but really emphasizing the coffee shop and any community events/social spaces they can offer. I hope there will be some way to still browse a bookstore and then be able to buy an ebook there.

As for publishers...well, a lot of people will still self-publish, and while a lot of it will be crap, there will be more authors who do well with it. So publishers will work harder to brand themselves as a seal of approval to give their books some credibility. I hope this means they'll take some of the money they would have spent printing books and direct it toward promotion, but we'll see. Whatever happens, they'll have to adapt. I highly doubt they'll all be out of business in the next few years.

D.G. Hudson said...

In 2016, corporate publishing should have started to acquire younger management who will ensure they don't miss out on the e-book explosion.

By that time, e-readers will be as common as cellphones for the majority of the buying public. The lure of the reasonably priced book and cheaper pricing for ereaders will suck in the remaining holdouts.

Self-published authors will be getting stronger in numbers, with an association to further the benefits of the self-pubbed. By now, self-published authors are gaining in credibility and acceptance.

Indie bookstores will partner with them and start to feature new local writers, edging away from being mainly an outlet for the big print publishers.

Now, I'll put away the Ouija board. Ahem.

Tana Adams said...

I wonder if this question was posed to the music industry once when CD's were prevalent and music stores still existed in multiple at strip malls. I guess my answer is buried in the text.

Anonymous said...

(pt. 1 of 2) I read the Konrath blog post all the way through & both had & came away from it with mixed feelings.

There are nuggets of truth in what the two men say, yet their beliefs are almost evangelistic in scope ie., PUBLISHING IS DEAD, PUBLISHING IS CLUELESS, PUBLISHING IS (<<<fill in the blank) Equal parts truth, self-servingness, wishful thinking, arrogance, and ... like I wrote, fill in the blank.)

The problem I have at this point with the authors who've epublished is two fold: the success' tend to write in genre ie., fantasy or action, and are gender exclusionary. Maybe I haven't found the work yet, but there isn't much that appeals to all but (big demographics, for sure) genre readers. People who will read anything in that genre, no matter how bad, or unedited, the manuscript. Which is the second part: so much, (all that I've read in my research) of the self-published writers are either a) mediocre writers whose work is glossed with an anxiety about BEING PUBLISHED (WOW! I did it!) because they were rejected by so many traditional venues, and b) in desperate need of other eyes, be it friends, an editor, a copy editor ... these types, IMO, suffer from the deillusion that everything they write is gold, if only the world could see - when their writing is unprofessional (lazy, poorly conceived, lacking rigor in any number of basic categories people who are being published traditionally tend to hit).

Needless to say, I haven't (yet) stumbled upon a Jonathan Franzen or Mary Gaitskill.

I found myself nodding in agreement w/Hogarth & friend (and wondering, are straight men really this stupid when they get together and drink? was this the patriarchy everyone's been so worried about all these years? & where's Judith Regan when we need her?) was in small observations about the business that rang true:

- that publishers aren't attached to one book, but a business of books ie., volume which is the essence of e-pub'ing -

- ereaders are acutely price sensitive, but those that "hoard" (the 99 cent buyers who want everything just because) shouldn't be determining market value and that we need to find a new, livable price point (something between $3.50 & $8.00)

- people are still going to buy print books: they're as portable (and, curiously, shaped / sized the same as many reading devices), and that convenience of shape and transport maintains their competitive element ...

- in the real world I don't know how many book buyers are obsessing on all this stuff as much as aspirant writers & publishers. Readers are still looking for stories that resonant.

- although Konrath claims there's no overlap of readers/buyers on his blog, honestly I would never have become aware of him were it not for his blogging. Granted, I'm not drawn to his work, but in the bigger sense, if he were more literary (less hybrid Johnny Walker 007 novelization pulp than John Burdett's Bangkok series), I'd probably have read more. Likewise, his drinking buddy: yes, he turned down $500K but I have (and still don't) no idea who he is.

- as business people, these writers seem to be v. engaged in what they're doing yet - yet - it moves the needle further away from good writing, IMO, into this sort of sticky/sleazy realm where writing, and writing an excellent story aren't just an after thought, they're of no thought at all. Seth G. doesn't put himself forth as a "writer" - he's all marketeer - but it's kind of dismaying to think that the future is, somewhat at least, being defined by people not with an eagerness to show humanity itself in their eyes, but only dollar signs.

Anonymous said...

pt. 2 of 2

- the logic of turning down $500 for (whatever genre book St. Martin's Press wanted to buy) for the long tail absolutely makes sense. And, it's not a brand driven decision, either. (Eiser? Eisler?) could invent himself, whole cloth, right now, without any publishing track record. He will mint more coin, in the long run, and seems to have no problem selling his soul in the process.

- the stand-out comment though was the one about what publishing could do right, when it chose to ie., pushing a book through the right channels, and making those connections. And that the NYTimes, et al had a vested interest in excluding all but the blue chip approved writers (I wish someone would research the stats of every F.S.G. book that gets reviewed and press: good or bad, it seems like they have, to the detriment of other equally deserving work, come to dominate the review sections.)

I write all of this as a recently (traditionally) published writer who's book has been reviewed, and well reviewed, and to see it languishing makes me, at the end of the day, vote for e-publishing. I did everything, jumped through all the hoops, and the house's support has been middling, at best. They've done what they're supposed to (ARC's, press releases, etc.) but the focus and commitment to making my book the best that it could be just isn't there. Which circles back to the "publishing isn't about a book, but books" comment and taking "content creators" (I call myself a writer) for granted. I've kept the faith, but at this point wouldn't think an awful lot about walking away. And I will, I have already laid the ground work for that with a (genre) series. Will it be as good as my first book? possibly .. not. but published under a pseudonym, it will be better than most of what's out there, and generating a LIVABLE WAGE, I'll be able to devote myself to serious writing.

Anonymous said...

In five or so years, publishing will be a baby again.

Books will be rare and treasured items. Even airport novels will be a coveted share. People may even (gasp) read out loud in groups again.

Most of all, regional authors and live storytellers will be the soothing and calming entertainment that people gather, walk for miles even, to be around.

We'll have powered down. People will be primally pumped and the telepathic connection between peoples and tribes will have upended the internet rendering it obsolete.

We will be living our archetypes.

What comes around goes around, it recycles back and fertilizes what will grow.

Guns and all things violent and poisonous will be buried and gone, i.e. humanity will have learned its cautionary tale. We will grow and eat organic, hunt and gather, and drink from the streams again.

Books may be written on bark or rice paper with organic inks with copies stored in treasure vaults, like museums. People will have developed photographic memories and be able to transmit the books they've read.

Writers will be beloved, but also have to carry water and gather wood as will everyone else. We will learn how to generate needed on-the-spot power and heat in our bellies.

We will be able to breathe underwater and levitate or else we will have made friends with intelligent water-beings and companion birds.

(Do I sound like a writer yet?)

Keetha said...

I wouldn't begin to speculate. As for me, I hope books, paper product books, are still around and going strong.

I borrowed a copy of West of Here from the library and enjoy having it around (love the cover art) so much that I kept it over a week after I finished it just because I enjoyed seeing the cover. I don't own an e-reader for just that reason. Not that I may not feel differently in the future. I just can't imagine it.

Deborah Blake Dempsey said...

The publishing houses will either revamp their current model and become significantly smaller and potentially less significant, or they will be obsolete. As writers know, it takes a lot to write a book and receiving such a small percentage of the earnings and less control or say in the look and deliverable of your book is a slap in the face after all the work, dedication, and (yes) sacrifice, the writer puts into their work. Not to mention, the potential of being dropped by your publisher if you don’t add to their bottom line margin is an additional stressor and drawback.

I think there will be other types of business opportunities to grow in this evolution. Today, self-publishing may take a lot of work, but with the new wave of indie publishing, writers will want more time to write than deal with the business side, opening the door for freelance editors, book jacket designers, graphic designers/illustrators and PR folks to do the work. The writer will have more of a choice in how their product looks, when they become available and what they want to write. Writers will have more freedom to switch up genre’s and not have to write what they are contractually obligated to produce.

I think there will be an explosion of books, both good and bad ones, but it’s the same choices we have now. You never know how good a book is going to be until you begin reading it.

Sierra Gardner said...

I suspect that the process will turn into something like this:

1) Writer finishes book
2) Writer finds agent
3) Agent works with in house editors and polishes book.
4) Agent, author and marketing produce an ebook that *hopefully* becomes very successful.
5) Agent approaches publishing house with option for book deal.

We'll see...

Mark Terry said...

It will look like a blasted wasteland with the sun a burning orb in a blackened sky and hordes of zombie writers staggering across the landscape with Kindles in their hands...

Or it will look like a gleaming city on the hill, a beacon of light and truth and honesty for all to follow...

Or, kind of like it does now, only with maybe one less major publisher, at least one less major bookseller, and a whole hell of a lot more self-published authors.

Dana Stabenow said...

One other change that I think has to come--publishers move out of NYC because they simply can no longer afford the real estate.

Michael Offutt said...

I think the death of the big chain bookstore is coming. I just don't see how they can keep it going because all of those brick and mortar stores and the staff, etc. cost too much money (no profit in it). Then with the death of the bookstores, the publishing industry is going to suffer much like the newspapers have done. I mean newspapers are still around, but in a much more humble capacity.

Karen said...

I predict that editors and authors will be brands, the way producer/directors are known in Hollywood (Brian Grazer/Ron Howard).

Editors will work freelance. Agents will filter authors for editors and take on more of a project management role. For an author to work with a top freelance editor, you'll have to go through an agent. Agents will not only connect authors to the appropriate editor, they'll handle film deals, foreign editions (much as they currently do), manage publicity plans, and find the appropriate cover artist. The agent could work for a flat fee or a cut of future profit.

New and midlist authors will indie e-pub with POD option. Best-selling authors will continue to work with legacy publishers.

The glut of books made available as indie e-pubs will be filtered first by editor/author name recognition. People will learn to avoid unedited (vanity) books.

Voracious readers will determine whether or not an indie e-pub/POD book is a success.

Best-selling indie e-pub/PODs will be picked up by traditional/legacy publishers and made widely available to the masses (people who only read best-sellers, and don't read much in a year).

Bookstores will survive by specializing in a few genres and finding gems for customers: sifting through the masses of sci-fi/romance/whatever genre available from indie pubs worldwide and shelving top picks for their clients in a bricks and mortar store and selling a subscription to their genre-specific e-zine where reviewers customers have come to know and trust recommend/review the best new books within that genre.

Lots of change, but everyone wins.

Anonymous said...

Barry Eisler is married to an agent so he might have a lot more help and insight in the waters of the self-publishing arena than your average joe author.

Plus, he's a best seller and because of this (more than likely) has some extra cash lying around in case it doesn't work out as planned. Still very brave of him, I think. BUT -- he's also a name author. That's completely different than an unknown. Thanks for sharing this, Nathan. I'll be interested to see how it works out for him.

Karen McCluskey said...

For adult and YA, I think ebooks will have at least half the fiction market due to ease of purchase, preview and portability. Texts will follow but become e-standard later.

Kids books will be in paper for many, many years to come. For adults, I think only favourite authors and books will win a coveted spot on a physical bookshelf.

Anonymous said...

I hope my husband is still employed--he works in traditional publishing though he's trying to learn whatever he can about e-books to ensure his survival.

I think it will be harder for writers to break in. I'm already noticing a difference in agents requesting my material--much fewer are requesting partials than a couple of years ago and there's less of a personal touch from agents, too.

Books will gradually disappear as they morph into "content" for Kindles, ipad--esp true for novels--their days are numbered--except for the most popular types of genre fiction and perhaps some high-end literary fiction.

More kids will be deprived of the glorious experience of having picture books read to them as parents stick iphones with "interactive books" in front of them.

People like Barry Eisler will realize their very dumb mistake of doing it themselves...

Many agents will leave the industry.

A few people will realize they actually miss bookstores and perhaps there will be a mini-surge in new independent stores.

Don't major in English--unless you want to work freelance and edit other's people's really crappy novels and self-help books.

Sarah Brand said...

One thing I'm wondering is how reader income factors into all this. Are e-readers for the relatively wealthy (who can afford to pay the initial cost of an e-reader), or do those in lower income brackets buy them too, so as to save money in the long run by buying cheaper books? Has anyone heard of any studies on this?

Anonymous said...

"One thing I'm wondering is how reader income factors into all this. Are e-readers for the relatively wealthy (who can afford to pay the initial cost of an e-reader), or do those in lower income brackets buy them too, so as to save money in the long run by buying cheaper books? Has anyone heard of any studies on this?"

That's an excellent question, and I'm going to answer it this way. There's a TV show on right now called "Shameless." It's about a low income family, struggling to survive. The house is falling apart, they can't pay their bills, the furniture is old and crummy. But there's a huge, expensive flat screen TV in their living room. In other words, the price of an e-reader (Kobo is now about 100.00) isn't going to stop them if they want to read digital books, assuming they have the inclination.

Jenna said...

Coming from the "Millennial" generation, you would expect that I prefer E-Books. I actually owned a Kindle for a time, but it sat unused and I gave it to a friend (in his 60s) who really wanted one. I never became comfortable with holding the Kindle, it felt so small and cold as opposed to curling up with a book. Something about turning the pages, a tangible interaction with the story, makes books irreplaceable for me. And despite my generation's obsession with iPods, iPads, iPhones, and anything else in the iClub (I'm obsessed too, no judgements), very few of my friends have converted to E-Books. I would never buy an E-Book for something I want to read over and over again, but I can see how they would be useful for textbooks, magazines, and novels you read just to keep up to date in publishing. If I want a strong connection to the story, I will buy the book in its true form. And I'm not going to "gift" and E-Book... how lame...

Anonymous said...

Major publishers will be forced to consolidate due to massive losses stemming from consumers rapid adoption of e-readers and the astonishing drop in prices of ebooks to between 99c and $2.99. This will result in heavy layoffs and as someone mentioned before, the relocation of the publishing houses to cheaper digs to places like Sioux Falls SD or Des Moines, IA. Lunch meetings at Arby's anyone?

Authors will band together to form co-ops, guilds and associations within their niche to gain support, marketing help and exposure/discoverability in a sea of ebooks released on a weekly basis. Some of these co-ops will become very popular and (sort of like the Miami Heat in the NBA will gain notoriety when they gain a new kick-ass author to their "team" of ebook authors within the guild)

Agents will need to demonstrate serious social media and web app chops to find ways to help authors rise above the noise. Many will exit the business as the revenue share will be less per author.

Bookstore chains will cease to exist other than boutique and independent shops where you will still be able to find or get help ordering hardcopy books. Print will not die but become much less relevant in relation to "new normal" e-reader consumption patterns by consumers.

Editors and graphic artists will thrive for several years providing self publishing services until new software and automated editing programs arrive that will make complicated formatting a snap. More layoffs and editors, etc will hit the unemployment line. (If you want to really make a killing during the ebook revolution, develop one of these automation programs right now).

The traditional styles and topics will become quaint as much more radical writing styles emerge that elitists will scoff at but the masses will continually devour and create numerous millionaires. (think Hunter S Thompson on steroids). Big name writers will have to work significantly harder as people who have written masterpieces but were passed over by the major publishing houses will seem to come out of nowhere with great books.

The New York Times, Newsweek, Time Magazine,etc will become heavy hitters in non-fiction publishing as their immense wealth of content and writers will allow them to publish astonishingly great collaborative works (this is already in motion). Revenue from these types of non-fiction ebooks will be as much as 10% of their total rev in 2016.

Transmedia and gaming will become integrated with advanced e-readers and authors will will collaborate with many other industries creating new hybrid content and new opportunities for those that can harness the tech.

New genres like scifi-romance and especially variations of erotic will explode as people can anonymously download these types of books that they never would purchase publicly.

Erik Blakkestad

Carol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
salima said...

I think by then we'll have mostly e-books. I think bookstores will be large, coffee-selling gathering spots, and kind of hybridized with libraries. The idea of authors gaining independence and freedom excites me, but the idea of children reading anything anyone puts out, regardless of quality, scares me. I think there will be a number of freelance editors that writers can hire to help produce a work that will gain a standard "stamp of approval," as in: these writers have produced a work in which a reader will be guaranteed good prose and proper grammar. I think with the self-published crap that will flood the marketplace, parents, schools and teachers will want some kind of assurance that their children are reading something worthwhile. I think it will take time to develop a system that provides such a seal of approval, but I do think that's what will happen. Without a seal like that, we may as well forgo the rules of the English language. Not to sound too bleak or anything.

Marilyn Peake said...

I think, in the future, the book industry will look much like the movie industry. Sundance Film Festival was started by Robert Redford in order to give indie filmmakers a chance to succeed after it became too expensive for them to compete against the major film studios. Sundance never threatened the movie industry. On the contrary, it added to it. The major movie studios now purchase successful Sundance films. In 1995, a group of independent artists felt that Sundance had become too commercial and started the Slamdance Film Festival which runs every year right next to, and at the same time as, the Sundance Film Festival. Slamdance hasn’t hurt the commercial film industry. Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster and Jared Hess all got their start at Slamdance. Lots of people from the movie industry attend Sundance, and some of them take time to check out Slamdance as well.

I want to thank you again for introducing your blog followers to the traditional, the indie and the self-publishing side of the publishing world, including your recent posts about the 99-cent Kindle books and the tremendous success of Amanda Hocking. After reading your blog, I decided to try the 99-cent Kindle route. Wow, it was one of the best things I’ve ever done with my writing. A couple of days ago, I posted four titles on Amazon Kindle for 99 cents each. Then, last night I went into the Kindle Discussions on Amazon. Within a few hours, a blogger and book reviewer volunteered to buy and review my books, and a few people mentioned putting a "Like" next to my books and tagging them.

There’s palpable excitement over in the Kindle Discussions. Someone there said it feels like a Revolution and the authors are ePioneers. Someone posted a link to an article that describes the excitement as coming from people with brand new Kindles wanting to find gems among the inexpensive indie Kindle books. I feel that way myself – I found some really great books by other authors priced at $2.95, $1.95 and 99 cents.

None of this will threaten the major publishing houses. Most authors would love to have an agent and publishing contracts with the big publishing houses. Readers will continue to purchase expensive books. The excitement over finding 99-cent gems has made people extremely excited over books, which is good for every type of publishing company. That’s very different than a few years ago when books had difficulty competing against movies, TV shows, and video games for consumers’ interest. Back then, publishers worried that people weren’t reading very much anymore.

By the way, did you notice that Amanda Hocking mentioned your blog on her blog today? She has a really interesting post on her blog today about the decisions she’s making about the future publication of her books.


I'd like to say no, but it seems inevitable. I'm a Graphic Designer, so the death of print is always a big funeral for me. It's like LPs. My kids see my collection and although they know who Led Zeppelin is, they're still like "weird. It's so big." What do they know? They better keep their grubby paws off my Pat Bentar album. lol.

LOVE love love your graphic for this post by the way! Fantastic!

Clare WB said...

Remember when the IBM Selectric was state of the art for writers and most of our research took place in library reference rooms? That's how different publishing will be for writers--and sooner than we think. I'm happy to think that we'll have more writers having their work read--much like it was in the days of pulp and serial magazine stories. Might not all be good, but there were--and will be--some wonderful stories read by people who didn't and don't buy big, expensive books. Vive l'ebooks!

Chris said...

I see these days of self-published authors as being akin to the days of pulp fiction in the 20's through the 40's. That period produced many successful writers, but also produced many works of questionable literary value. There will be a deluge of e-books and other works from every writer who believes they have something to say, but only a small percentage will be successful. The coming years will see successful e-writers being more from those who market their works the best than from those who are the best writers. Hopefully there will be critics who will recognize the works for substance, not just number of sales.

Other Lisa said...

I mean, who knows, really?

What I think, because I'm sort of an optimist:

Though EBooks will take some market share away from paper, I don't think it will be 50% of the current market. The optimist in me thinks that EBooks will expand the pie in general. I am hoping that they will be a gateway, for some, to read, because of the novelty of the device, and an encouragement for others to simply buy more books, both E and paper.

I honestly think that paper is a better way to read a book -- maybe not a text book, or a magazine or a newspaper -- but a better way to read a long narrative. I know not everyone agrees, but I think for most readers, a paper book is a better reading experience.

I put myself in that category. I'd like to get an eReader for certain situations and to buy less expensive books from authors I'm not familiar with. I have a feeling I'd just end up buying more books, period.

Bookstores: I vote for smart indies. I've seen them at work, and I think they can survive and flourish, because of the value they bring to their customers. I do agree that they need to focus on events (authors and book-oriented) and additions (coffee, food, wine) that get people into the store. There's the convenience and price factor of Amazon on the one hand, but I think there's a craving for actual, physical community on the other, and bookstores can provide that.

Publishing: I dunno, quite honestly. I do think you'll see Big Six (or Big Five) publishers picking the creme out of the self-pub pile and offering them deals. As in bookstores, I think there's a place for smart smaller independent publishers with good infrastructure for marketing and distribution.

Marie Gilbert said...

I agree with other Lisa. I feel that it will be a 50/50 split between established Publishing Companies and e-books. I have a nook, but I love to hold books in my hands. If book stores begin to offer a wide scale of activities, they will survive. I have nine grandchildren 8 years old to 22 years old and they love going to the Deptford N.J. Barnes and Noble on Saturdays.

stephen matlock said...

Something like e-books will take over 85% or more of the market, but I don't think we'll see Kindles and Nooks like we do now.

There are at least 2 generations of new devices ready to come out between now and 2016.

I don't even know if we'll call them e-books by that time.

And I think the biggest thing is not just that it's e-books, but that we will see the disappearance of bookstores and publishers, and the rise of one or two vetting publishers such as Amazon.

There will be a fight to establish creds on Amazon & other sites, and these credentialed reviewers will take the place of publishers in terms of saying whether a book is worth reading.

Anonymous said...

testing, testing, 1,2,4,

Anonymous said...

Their is one literary quote that came to my head immediately after reading the whole JA Konrath Blog. It 'tis: "off with their heads!"

And thusly it made me think of Russian Royalty, Czar Nicholas, who was a zealot that bled the people dry but probably didn't deserve to have his head cut off and lose his children. Still, without the czar as Russia's ruler, chaos ruled supreme for centuries.

Which led me to today's upheaval in the Middle East. Ain't much different from the arguments that we are having between the published and the not publisheds.

If you can predict the Middle East, you will be able to predict the how books will look in five years.

And if you are that good you will also be winning the March Madness pool.

EB said...

The publishing houses will have to consolidate due to new pricing structure realities brought on by the ebook marketplace. Most ebooks will be priced between 99c and $4.99. this will result in massive layoffs and the forced relocation of the industry to less expensive locations.

Thousands of authors who had previously written novels but could never get them published will self publish them as ebooks. Many will will languish in obscurity, some will become recognized as great works. A few will become instant classics.

The New York Times, Newsweek, Time, etc will all be publishing volumes of non-fiction "digital newsbooks" collaboratively created by armies of professional journalists. The first of these are being published now. This will generate a significant additional revenue stream for news organizations.

Many authors will band together to form cooperatives in order to provide quality assurance, marketing synergy and greater visbility/discoverability. This is also just starting to occur now.

Widespread piracy and IP infringement will be a major issue.

Editors and other support staff positions will be in demand initially but advanced artificial intelligence software may emerge to provide easy formatting for indie self-publishers eliminating the need to hire additional support staff to self-publish.

e-readers will usher in a renaissance of the written word. Great authors will achieve cult like, rockstar status (similar to early-mid Stephen King era)

Aggregators will be able to quickly assemble high quality works and put out fascinating collections/sets of radical new writers with different perspectives.

Erik Blakkestad

Janiel Miller said...

I was going to say the publishing industry will look like Madonna in five years, but I might have misunderstood the question.

Jolene Perry said...

I think the future is good. Most of the people in publishing will simply be shifting roles to accomodate ebooks.
I think it means good things for authors - but a LOT more sifting for consumers to find things that are read-worthy.

Melissa said...

I see a lot of correlations between the music industry and the publishing industry in terms of what happens to the artists after they no longer have representation and there is no industry in place to support them – or new artists.

A lot of published authors will jump ship and self-publish, as well as those who had a couple of books published and didn’t get a new contract. But only formerly established authors who have name recognition on the shelves will be able to make bank. The average indie writer won’t have a snowball’s chance in h*ll for the most part. The only way indie writers can possibly “succeed” will be to churn out penny dreadfuls in great gobs as quickly as they can. After they e-publish 50+ novels, they might start making some change. Write under enough nom de plumes and in enough genres, and one or two might become successful. For these people, the focus will be on quantity, not quality. We might see some indie writers flooding the market with a new book once a week. Ebooks will be treated more like iPhone apps. We'll never really know how many people read them.

The Big Six may still exist, although I do see some mergers. They’ll be smaller, and they’ll have to relocate due to the expense of NYC real estate. By then, they’ll have done their market research and they’ll cater to the market as to produce books that appeal to the widest possible demographic. Said books will be written at an eighth-grade level, which is the mean in America. Basically, we’ll get the Britney Spears and Justin Beibers of books. Literary fiction will wither and … I’m not sure what will happen to it.

Literary agents will become eBook bundlers, acting in the capacity of editors, graphic design procurers and online marketers. I doubt they’ll work on prospect; writers will likely have to pay their money and take their chances. Only agents with JDs will negotiate film rights or anything that involves serious contracts. Like producers, managers and sound engineers who used to pick and choose who they worked with, most agents will take business from wherever they can get it. Agenting might become a night or weekend job for many, as it has for former music industry folks.

Claude Nougat said...

The future is NOT bleak!

E-books will expand the book market in general, bringing in lots of new readers - people who after a first jolly experience on their i-pad or kindle will go on to buy paper books for the first time in their lives!

Bookstores will have to become more imaginative to be welcoming places, like Starbucks with coffee to attract clients or organize conferences and local contests to engage the community. And the big chains could give print-on-demand services for all things digital, why not? Indeed, that's where the real competition for printed books might yet come from...

Publishers will stop being so fearful and realize that if they don't try to scrape authors naked, but instead turn them into faithful allies (for example giving them a better deal on e-book royalties and making more of an effort to support book marketing), then their prospects might really turn for the better.

There will be more Amanda Hockings coming into their fold and fewer Barry Eisler walking away from them. But the real challenge are the midlist authors who can make a big buck turning their back list into e-books. Publishers will just have to figure out a way to get into that juicy market - and they won't get into it unless they provide a service of value to the authors, like, say, marketing support and the means to fight off piracy.

Because, let's face it, the biggest danger for the digital revolution in the publishing industry is PIRACY!

Kathryn Magendie said...

Whatever direction it goes, I hope I'm riding along with a big arse grin slapped across my pea-headed face!

Hart Johnson said...

In my infinite wisdom... I see a lot of smaller ePublishers popping up (potentially offering PoD back-up). I have seen a few already, accepting submissions for good quality books that fall into this or that qualification but aren't as bound by the 'rules'. Big Publishing is playing very conservative right now, and I think it is creating a window for these. I like the idea because it leaves the 'quality control layer' while still opening a lot more options than there currently are. My sadness is, I don't see how bookstores can survive it.

Nobilis Reed said...

The biggest changes will be at the retail level. Bookstores will become smaller boutique stores, that specialize in one genre or another, one special interest or another, mirroring the fragmentation and clique-ification of modern culture.

Publishers will operate on a different paradigm, offering real services to the author in exchange for their piece of the cover price.

Publishers will take their job of curation seriously, and will work hard to maintain brand credibility. They will pay more attention to the things people actually buy books for.

Cover prices for ebooks will go down, starting with debut authors ($0.99 will become the standard) and moving to mid-list ($2.99) and eventually to the top of the heap ($4.99). The MSRP might not look like that, but deals will be made that will get prices down to that level for any consumer who wants it.

JoeGKushner said...

I think the real problem is that we don't know what other role technology will take as things move along. As much as I love reading, the ART of reading itself is in danger of becoming extinct and moving reading onto devices that have other time killers and Apps isn't necessarily the best way to get more readers out there if all they're doing is playing Sudiko or Scrabble on their e-Readers. As media itself continues to change, the authors that stand to make the most change or impact are those who will be able to take advantage of this new content, whatever form it may take ranging from movie clips in the book to moving illustrations or audio parts. After all, how hard can it be to get a computer to read the book you're reading? Audio books may very well become merged with such texts or may be read by more specialized actors of large name and fame.

The Price of Tea said...

I'm new to this game. Just read my first ebook yesterday. Have 1 1/2 memoirs complete...havne't queried a sole. So sorry if all this seems silly, but: I think the publishers need to get creative. Why not have their ebooks ad supported? We hated it on the web initially, and it took time, but now ads on the web are ubiquitous. Make ebooks an interactive experience (especially for the younger generation of readers)...charge a premium for that experience. Why not a subscription model? Get four books a month for $15-$30, depending on the authors. It could generate a steady stream of income to help support the print business. How about bundling ebooks. Buy the Harry Potter of the day and get 3 or four unknown/new authors in the same genre (or genre of your choice) for free. This could be a market research tool...develop some "like" button so they know who to send to print and who to keep on as an eauthor. I think the future is bright, people just have to get out of the box.

Anonymous said...

I made a life decision about a year ago. The day the last bookstore closes is the day I stop buying new books. I already own more books than I will have time to read in my remaining lifetime. I will not purchase any e-book unless it is required for my work. I will not purchase electronic versions of print magazines. I am confident the used bookstore market will thrive and resurge, especially once Kindle and the others experience the equivalent of what happened to the Playstation Network a couple months ago. (Bet money it will happen, especially once people start keeping their ebooks in the "cloud"). As a compliment, e-books are fine. They are not a replacement. And my prediction is in 5 years we will be living in a terrible society. In 10 years, after people realize how temporary e-books are and how poor replacements for real books they are, they will have come to their senses and we'll see a comeback. The people who keep using the "horse and buggy" analogy clearly have never read a real book in their life - they just skimmed the pages.

Jane Pelusey said...

As a writer and a reader I am a contradiction. I love books.. the feel, the smell, the colour. But I prefer to read on my kindle. We could never have predicted these changes five years ago, so how can we even imagine what is to be in another five years.
Hang on we are in for a wild ride.

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